The Kettlebell Workout

Long before they were used for strength training and conditioning, kettlebells were originally used as handled counterweights to weigh out dry goods on market scales in Russia in the early 1700’s.

It wasn’t until many years later, when people started throwing them around for entertainment and later weight lifting.

Fast forward 350 years and kettlebells remain a familiar training tool at gyms across the country. The weights offer all the benefits of dumbbell training, with the added advantage the super-thick handles that challenge your grip. Because the weight can swing in relation to the handle, simply handling kettlebells works your core extra hard.

Kettlebell exercises are used to build power, strength, and also endurance. There are many different exercises that you can use during a kettlebell workout, but I want to focus on one specific exercise, the kettlebell swing.

KETTLEBELL SWING

The swing will be one of the most common kettlebell exercises you will come across. With this movement you are building power through your posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings mainly) by squatting and thrusting your hips into extension. The kettlebell is in front of you and moves upward as your extended arms are controlling the weight. Remember to  never pull the kettlebell with your arms during the swing. All of the force comes from your hip thrust and the shoulders andcore are just controlling the weight.

HOW TO DO:

This exercise can be used in different formats depending on the type of result you are looking for.

Building power/strength – use a heavier kettlebell with a small repetition range of 8-12.
Building endurance – use a lighter kettlebell with a higher rep range of 15-20.

You can complete kettlebell swings in straight sets (3 sets of 8-10 reps) or you can add them into a superset or circuit routine.

Colin’s favorite kettlebell circuit:

  • 3 rounds
  • 15 kettlebell swings
  • 10 goblet squats

WARNING!

The movements used in kettlebell workouts can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems, or a weak core. However if done properly they can also be very beneficial to health. They offer improved mobility, range of motion and increased strength.

Target Muscles:

  • Chest and shoulders, core, grip, legs

Before attempting a kettlebell workout, its best to consult with a personal trainer, someone familiar with the exercise and correct technique. For information, contact Colin at colin.brunet@ochsner.org.

Colin Brunet

Colin Brunet
Colin Brunet graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. He is currently a personal trainer at Ochsner Fitness... read more